How to eat, drink and be merry according to a dietitian

Melissa Shedden
December 14, 2016

True story: It’s possible to survive Christmas with your health and happiness intact.

We enlisted leading dietitian Simone Austin to share her guide to thriving during the silly season. Turns out, the secret is planning and a little attention to what you’re putting in our mouth (Beware of fistfuls of scorched almonds).

Here are her top tips.

  1. “Keep Christmas treats for Christmas, not for the whole of December and into January,” says Austin. Keep the pavlova to public holidays.
  2. Make and take a platter of healthy choices. “Fruit and nut platters, roasted chickpeas, smashed avocado, chicken skewers, rice paper rolls, mini roast beef and rocket burgers, wholegrain pork sliders with added greens are my top picks,” she says.  

  3. Start with water. “Tap, soda or mineral – it doesn’t matter, as long as it comes before an alcoholic drink.”
  4. Catch up with friends for a walk and talk. “Visit a Christmas market or shop for fresh food and cook together. You don’t have to catch up for a drink,” says Austin.
  5. Give and receive healthier presents. “I like pots of herbs, fresh nuts, yoga classes, magazine subscriptions, chutneys, oils and vinegars,” she says.  Nice over naughty.
  6. Try quality over quantity. “A good meal doesn’t need to be one that you leave feeling like you are going to burst. It is about the tastes. Select what you feel like and serve an amount you would normally eat.” Cue zero expanded waistline, lethargic feeling and financial burden of cooking and eating a feast.

  7. Back away from the buffet. “Serve the vegetables and salads first. Plate up once and then move away, sit down and relax. Eat slowly, savour the tastes and enjoy the gastronomic experience,” says Austin.
  8. Remember it’s OK to say, ‘no thank you’.  “You also have permission to leave some food on your plate and not drink alcohol if you don’t want to.”
  9. Make sure you indulge, too. “Eat some favourite festive treats. The key is to enjoy and eat well most of the time,” recommends Austin.